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A Headquarters Worthy of its Mission

The Rocky Mountain Institute Innovation Center in Basalt, Colorado

“This building achieves beyond net-zero energy because we have gotten better at choosing and combining technologies to maximize building performance.” –Amory Lovins


The Three Main Design Challenges of the RMI Innovation Center in Basalt, Colorado:

  • Meeting the goal of net zero in one of the coldest climates in the US for the office building space type
  • Finding windows to meet all of our objectives
  • Ensuring controls are designed correctly to ensure ‘active’ and passive strategies work as intended


The Building, by the Numbers:

  • 15,610 square feet (90% of all U.S. commercial office buildings are less than 25,000sf)
  • Cost was $13.67 million—only about 10 percent more than the cost to build a more conventional structure on the same site without any net-zero features or premium-grade finishes, according to Cara Carmichael (a manager in RMI’s buildings practice, and PM for the Innovation Center).
  • 40% of the structure is highly insulated glass
  • PHIUS says it has “one of the lowest air-leakage values ever recorded in the country”
  • LEED Platinum (earning all 19 LEED energy points), Passive House (PHIUS) Certified as a PHIUS+ Source Zero certified project
  • Anticipating ILFI Net Zero Energy Certification, Living Building Challenge Petal Recognition and an Energy Star target score of 100
  • 63% better energy efficiency and 40% better water efficiency than code requirements
  • Uses 74% less energy than the average office building in this climate
  • Achieves net-zero energy—one of only 200 buildings in the U.S. to achieve this distinction as of 2015
  • The most energy-efficient building in the coldest climate zone in North America
  • Eliminated mechanical cooling and reduced mechanical heating to a small, distributed system equivalent to one average size home
  • Largest PHIUS+ Certified office in the U.S.


In 2009, the Rocky Mountain Institute helped spearhead a $550 million “deep retrofit” of the Empire State Building, which included converting every one of the skyscraper’s 6,514 double-hung windows to superinsulated glass units.
Those glass units were from Alpen High Performance Products.


It’s no surprise that when RMI needed the best high performance glazing available for their own Innovation Center, they turned to a leader they knew they could trust—Alpen.


RMI Innovation Center Glazing:

  • Alpen QuadPane C180, C272, C366 – with 2 HM 88 films, 90% krypton fill and low iron glass
  • Glazing tuned per aspect
  • Center of glazing &-value 0.075 to 0.078

 RMI-3--500px            RMI-4--500px

See the Innovations Center’s LEED scorecard here.